Hocho Funayuki


The creation and use of tools is part of what defines human beings and separates us from other primates. The knife, it could be argued, was the first tool; now used throughout the world daily, it has become an essential part of the human existence.


Sam Gleeson’s submission showcases a progressive pathway of skills inspired by centuries old bladesmith techniques pushed into the modern age. Working with carefully selected base materials, each completed blade represents the development in understanding of metal fusion and forging, from necessity to extravagance of design.


In response to the ‘Pathways’ theme, Sam’s three pieces identify the journey of human need through creation, to refinement and efficiency, arriving at achievement for the sake of expression – being able to use heritage skills and apply them with a modern craft interpretation is what fuels my daily desire to work – looking into history to inform the future. 


The blade shown here is a hocho Funayuki. This style of blade was traditionally forged from a single piece of high carbon steel with a very simple handle and was used on board fishing boats as a general purpose working knife. This would a been an introductory piece for an apprentice bladesmith.


Description: general purpose 180mm Japanese style blade. Hand forged and profiled from mono steel. Hidden tang handle construction with balance of blade at the curve of the heel. Full distal taper forged into blade length, sharpened on Japanese whetstones.


Materials: 26C3 high carbon steel blade, African Black Palmwood bolster, wind-felled Spalted Hornbeam handle with nickel silver and buffalo horn detailing.


Artist Bio

Sam Gleeson is a bladesmith; he creates knives as contemporary tools to be used in the professional kitchen and the home to prepare meals, to be enjoyed for their creativity as well as their purpose.


The craft of bladesmithing includes metalworking techniques similar to those used by blacksmiths, woodworking for handles and sheathes and leatherworking for rolls or cases. The process is elemental – earth for the ore, air to fuel the forge, fire to heat the steel and water to quench the blade; being able to work at such a base understanding in the modern age is inspiring in itself.


Sam is motivated by materials and the story they hold – giving new purpose to found and recycled steels and incorporate them into his work using centuries old forge-welding techniques to blend and twist them together. High carbon steels sandwiched between found gems; wrought iron cart wheels, whiskey barrel straps, limbs from long forgotten orchards, 300 year old storm-damaged trees from Irish Estate Houses or bog found relics of mellenia old forests brought back to life.


Sam has arrived at creating an individual expression of a common tool.